Get the first look at Fortitude Valley’s newest speakeasy TSO Lounge & Dining
The age of clandestine cocktail bars and alehouses might be nearly a century behind us, but the spirit of the Prohibition age is still alive and well in the contemporary tipple scene. Don’t believe us? Just look at Fortitude Valley’s newest arrival. Drawing inspiration from the history of the 1920s is TSO Lounge & Dining, a split-level watering hole steeped in local heritage that is offering a modern take on classic cocktails and culinary opulence.
Chefs Andy Lucas and Genevieve Cox are the proprietors of Fortitude Valley’s newest hideaway TSO Lounge & Dining. Since moving to Brisbane from Cairns, the seasoned hospitality lifers have wasted no time building a budding portfolio – taking over Two Streets Over in Gordon Park before setting their sights on opening a bar of their own. The perfect opportunity presented itself when the duo inspected the former Apothecaries Hall on Ann Street (formerly home to The Apo) – a venue with more than a century of history. Falling in love with the exposed brick and high ceilings, Andy and Gen seized the opportunity to take over the space, their brains running wild with inspired ideas of a bar that blended contemporary hospitality with Prohibition-era style.
Having two levels to work with afforded Andy and Genevieve the chance to split their approach into two defined areas. The ground-level portion of the space boasts TSO’s dining area, boasting intimate indoor dining and outdoor seating extending out into Bakery Lane’s communal courtyard space. A lengthy bar extends from entry to the kitchen, offering a glimpse at the flurry of culinary activity on display. Upstairs sits the Dispensary – the name given to TSO’s speakeasy cocktail bar. Andy and Gen recruited Jumble & Stack to help overhaul the space and realise their vision of a relaxed but sophisticated lounge bar. Local carpenters fashioned a new bar (resembling an Apothecary’s chest) from scratch using Tasmanian oak – alongside TSO’s tabletops and dry bars – while vintage furniture and a heritage fireplace were added to build on the historic, lived-in vibe.
The food and drink
Andy has crafted a menu that encompasses bar snacks, lunch bites and sit-down dinners, using the rich tastes and opulent fare of a bygone era as a base to work from. Culinary oddities have been given a contemporary twist, starting with snacks such as Devilled Eggs with avocado, miso and micro wasabi, fried-chicken pieces with sweet vermouth-spiked aioli and dips served with house-made damper. Lunch takes a similar approach, giving old-school fare such as open-faced Prosperity sandwiches, ploughman’s plates and fish with mushy peas a modern twist. Dinner encompasses dishes such as the ‘2 Tooth’ pot pies, pork fillets with smoked almonds and scotch fillets with potato and leek gratin. As for the drinks, bar manager Liam Vince has stocked the Dispensary back bar with an varied range of Scotch whisky, bourbon, rum, gin, and moonshine, all of which feed in to a cocktail list of recognisable concoctions.
TSO Lounge & Dining is now open to the public. For more information, seek out TSO in the Stumble Guide.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.